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The Rolling Stones At T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Saturday, October 22nd, 2016, Reviewed

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The Stones

 

The Rolling Stones in Las Vegas,… this sounded like a MGM production of the golden ages of cinema, and it was not a coincidence if the MGM grand hotel casino was across the street of the T-Mobile Arena. Grand, it was indeed and since it was my first time seeing the Stones live, everything sounded bigger, bolder at the image of the sin city, as the famous UK band brought a formidable energy for a passed-retirement crowd. My seat was quite good and the night passed like a dream.

The Stones had actually scheduled two shows in Las Vegas, but they finally played only one due to Mick Jagger’s laryngitis, which forced the band to cancel their Wednesday show. After a sort of crazy decision, I was back in Las Vegas for their Saturday show, and I realize I have driven more than 18 hours in the same week to see them… how insane is that? For some reasons I had never seen The Stones live and I felt it was a sort of way to catch up with time and all the missed opportunities… How long are these old guys going to be around? Nobody knows but it is close to impossible to comprehend that Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood are respectively 73, 72, 75 and 69. The guy sitting next to me reminded me this small detail, several times during the show, telling me with a stunned expression on his face, while pointing to Mick Jagger, ’73?’

But I wasn’t there to be reminded that we were watching the grandpas of rock & roll, I didn’t want to be reminded that Jagger has five grand children and is even a great-grandfather… no, that was not the deal, not the vision I had of this amazing night, I was watching the legendary Rolling Stones in a brand new and quite amazing venue in a city that never sleeps and never stops dreaming… Why would all these people be awake in the middle of the night around a Poker and Black Jack table or in front of a slot machine if they were not running after a dream? I don’t care for gambling but The Stones were my Vegas dream and nobody could spoil it. But age has to be an illusion when you see Mick Jagger being so energetic, running and dancing all over the stage and its elongated runway like a teenager! I take this back, he is better, much better than a teenager, everything that he does seems completely orchestrated and professional, however not stereotyped at all. He is an experienced rock & roll mover, in fact, he makes you believe he is the only one that has ever existed when you are watching him, he is agile, as light as air, and yes, damn sexy. This will be the last time I will mention his age, but is it creepy to find a 73 year-old guy sexy? Not when we are talking about Mick Jagger I guess. I was far enough ignore his wrinkles, and, at 73, he gets away with the unimaginable: his juvenile silhouette, his many colorful shirts and jackets and his black fitted jeans, make him the incarnation of what rock & roll is about, youth and sex.

He was the only one I was constantly watching on stage, and I don’t even care if he stayed in bed the next day, feeling old and hurting from all that running and jumping – I bet that this could not be further from the truth and that he even did a little running on his treadmill. A show like this one is selling a dream, a dream of immortality, and this is just what Las Vegas is about.

The show started like a ball of fire, with only classics, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’, ‘It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It)’, the Stones pleased the crowd all night long, there’s no doubt about it, because beside ‘Ride ‘Em On Down ‘ (a song from their upcoming new album ‘Blue And Lonesome’), anyone could recognize the tunes they played, even people who were casually knowledgeable in Stones business. Who hasn’t heard ‘Gimme Shelter’, ‘Start Me Up’, ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, ‘Brown Sugar’? People around me could not contain their emotion, the adrenaline-endorphin system was in full bloom among these septuagenarians, and even though you have heard these songs a million of times, there was a real thrill to hear them live, as I was pinching myself in repeat to be sure I was fully aware of these rock gods’ presence.

Keith did three songs on his own, for the first time since the Stones’ show in Brisbane in 2014 apparently, and may be gave Mick some time to recover from these first songs… although I still have a hard time to believe he was really sick 3 days before this high-energy spectacle. There is this rampant rumor that they had been forced to cancel the show at the request of The Secret Service supervising the Trump-Clinton presidential debate, and although the rumor was said to be untrue, this will always be in the back of my mind, as it takes me a week to recover from a simple cold,… but, again, I am just human, contrarily to Mick Jagger.

But I must say that the Keith interlude slowed down the energy quite a bit, and gave people some time to grab a beer, something they didn’t think even doing when Jagger was on stage, which tells everything about him. Of course I was sometimes looking at Charlie Watts doing amazing things on drums or Ron Wood taking the lead on guitar, or to the rest the band, bassist Daryl Jones, sax and  French horn players I could not see very well, the great choir from a local high school (the Green Valley High School chorale) during ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, and one of the girls, Sasha Allen, taking the lead during a scorching duo with Mick. Yes, all this was terrific, but I must admit I only had eyes for Mick, who was always on the move, all gesture and arm in the air, pointing his fingers, and managing to have all the swagger of the world while never transforming it into any sort of arrogance. The way he half-removes his jacket from his shoulders, while walking-jumping with this amazing determination, has always done it for me, but seeing him doing it live was a sort of revelation.

He apologized for the cancelled show on Wednesday and later joked about the situation ‘Is everyone having a great time in Vegas? I went to see David Copperfield, he made me disappear for the whole of Wednesday,’ then about another event which was happening in town the same day of the cancellation, calling it the ‘other entertainment in town’… and asking whether it was ‘a comedy or a tragedy’.

After more classics and a sparkling red long vest for Jagger during ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, they played the obvious for the encore, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ and ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’. These songs would come up on the radio when I was in high school, and even at the time, they were already old! What else can I say about the Stones and the timeless quality and endurance of their music when they were already rocking when I was in diapers, or not even born? I met a man after the show who had seen them 49 times, but he insisted that this gig was their best show ever, ‘they keep getting better with age’, he said, using a cliché formula which certainly applies in this case.

Having no Stones-related previous experience, this show was not about nostalgia for me, I didn’t think about the past for a minute, it was all about the moment as I wanted the time to stretch indefinitely. It was all about the dream, the rock & roll dream that will never die, at least as long as Mick Jagger can do his Tina-Turner-James-Brown-signature moves.

Setlist

Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Let’s Spend The Night Together
It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It)
Tumbling Dice
Ride ‘Em On Down
Paint It Black
Honky Tonk Women – Band introductions
Slipping Away (Keith Richards solo)
Little T & A (Keith Richards solo)
Happy (Keith Richards solo)
Midnight Rambler
Miss You
Gimme Shelter
Start Me Up
Sympathy For The Devil
Brown Sugar

Encore
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

2 Comments

  1. California Rocker on October 24, 2016 at 2:49 am

    Fantastic work! Alyson Camus is a great photojournalist and super storyteller. Thanks for the cool insights on the Rolling Stones show in Las Vegas!

    • Alyson on October 24, 2016 at 9:36 am

      Thank you Donna! You are too nice!!

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